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VCHT Bird Walk - January 11, 2023

Eleven students and two professors from the State University of New York (SUNY at Syracuse), not quite sure about what to expect, met the VCHT Bird Team on the Malecon at 7:30 am. After introductions and an overview of what to expect, Mike distributed the Birds of Vieques List, Marie sorted out transportation arrangements, and Cesar, Priscilla, and Dale pointed out our first birds:

3 Royal Terns

1 Magnificent Frigatebird

1 Brown Pelican

1 Great Egret

At the next stop, the wetland under the radio tower, we quickly had excellent views of some migrants and island endemics. Everyone had an opportunity to get good scope views of Yellowlegs and a Ruff. While the students were busy checking off birds on their lists, Josh was calling his bird colleague back at Syracuse to report what he saw. Indeed, seeing a Ruff here is very unusual. At this stop we added nine birds to the list:

1 White-winged Dove

2 Zenaida Dove

2 Common Gallinule

1 Ruff

2 Lesser Yellowlegs

1 Great Egret

1 Belted Kingfisher

4 Gray Kingbird

1 Northern Mockingbird

Our last stop was at the east end of Sun Bay where we were treated to lovely views of Mangrove Cuckoos. We saw two and heard a third. Before walking into the lagoon, we observed the following:

1 Mourning Dove

3 Mangrove Cuckoo

3 Magnificent Frigatebird

7 Cattle Egret

As usual, we asked everyone to enter the lagoon very quietly to avoid frightening the birds. Cesar went ahead and set up the scope. The group was very cooperative and the result was rewarding. It was great to see young people so switched on. Again, everyone had great close-up and distant-scope views of the rich bird life in the salitral. Josh was again calling his birder friend; so much excitement! All-in-all, we added 17 species:

18 Blue-winged Teal

8 White-cheeked Pintail

1 Green-throated Carib

2 Antillean-Crested Hummingbird

1 Black-necked Stilt

2 Lesser Yellowlegs

8 Brown Pelican

4 Great Blue Heron

70 Great Egret

3 Snowy Egret

3 Little Blue Heron

2 Yellow-crowned Heron

1 Osprey

1 Gray Kingbird

1 Pearly-eyed Thrasher

1 Adelaide’s Warbler

1 Bananaquit

800 Peeps on the far shore of the lagoon

It was a pleasure to work with students who are so interested and engaged, and we look forward to a long and positive relationship with SUNY. Collaboration, especially when it comes to wildlife conservation, is critical to all of our respective futures. Don’t hesitate to be in touch!


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